NHS safety net?
It appears that the NHS plays a significant role in a healthy diet and lifestyle. When faced with the prospect of having to fund your own medical care, 51% said they would address their diet and lifestyle if there was no NHS to fall back on, but 48% said they wouldn’t. The split for men and women also reflected the total responses.
The younger the respondent, the more likely they were to say they’d eat more healthily without the NHS safety net – 63% of 18–24 year-olds, dropping to 55% of 25–34 year-olds, 49% of 35–44 year-olds, 51% of 45–54 year-olds and 48% of people aged over 55.
80% of respondents said they’d make more effort to eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly and maintain a lean BMI if given a cash incentive…
something that could give future Governments food for thought.
Both men and women of all age groups reacted positively to this question, with 18–24 year-olds the most enthusiastic supporters at 87% and only the over-55s dropping below 80%. Currently some life insurance companies offer discounts and incentives to customers, such as gym membership. However, applying cash incentives or tax breaks to the entire population would throw up complicated (and costly) administration and monitoring issues.
Should the NHS be there to pick up the pieces?
Evidently there’s a lot riding on the continued existence of the NHS: 83% of respondents expect it to pick up their care when they’re older regardless of how much, or not, they’ve taken responsibility for their diet and general wellbeing. The older the respondent, the more convinced they were that the NHS would be there for them – for instance 86% of the over 55s, decreasing slowly to 80% of 25–34 year-olds.
However, the extensive media and Government discussions around NHS funding problems appear to be influencing the thinking of younger respondents. Nearly a quarter – 23%, of 18–24 year-olds said they did not expect the NHS to care for them in later life regardless of lifestyle choices. Recent data from ONS shows that younger people are doing more to take care of themselves, one particularly interesting finding showed that more young people aged between 16 and 24 are opting to be teetotal, rising from 19 per cent in 2005, to 27 per cent in 2013. Perhaps their distrust in the NHS being able to provide for them later in life is influencing these kind of decisions to be healthier and take better care of themselves before it’s too late.
Find out more about what our research revealed on attitudes to the NHS in our National Health Report.